From pitching projects on the Comic-Con showroom floor to a hip-hop fellowship at Harvard, John Jennings is creating art to inspire a new generation in an increasingly visual world. In this episode we’ll talk with the award-winning illustrator about his work on the New York Times best-selling graphic novel adaptation of Octavia Butler's classic dark fantasy novel “Kindred,” and discuss ways in which art allows us to explore how the past continues to influence the present.

Hosted by Rickerby Hinds. This episode was recorded at the Center for Ideas and Society at the University of California, Riverside. 

Guest Bio: 
John Jennings is a celebrated designer, curator, illustrator, and cartoonist. He is the recipient of two Eisner Awards – in 2018 for the graphic novel adaptation of Octavia Butler’s “Kindred” with Damian Duffy, and as co-editor of the anthology “The Blacker the Ink: Constructions of Black Identity in Comics and Sequential Art.” Jennings is a professor of media and cultural studies at the University of California, Riverside and was a Nasir Jones Hiphop Fellow at Harvard’s Hutchins Center for African & African American Research. He is co-founder/organizer of The Schomburg Center’s Black Comic Book Festival in Harlem, the MLK NorCal’s Black Comix Arts Festival in San Francisco, and SOL-CON: The Brown and Black Comix Expo at The Ohio State University. His creative and academic work centers around intersectional narratives regarding identity politics and popular media. 

More from this episode: 
•    Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by John Jennings and Damian Duffy
•    Images from Kindred, how the color of blood inspired color choices in the book, and more from John about his work.
•    How the movie “Get Out” by Jordan Peele inspired John’s college course on Afrofuturism and Horror
•    Learn more about Theaster Gates and Bell Hooks.
•    Listen to the Erykah Badu song “Bag Lady.”

Full Episode Transcript